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Tribal Historical Overview - 1900s - Early Education

Intro | Trade | Laws and Treaties | Early Reservation Life | Change | 1900s | Economic and Social Change | Present Day

Intro | Early Education | Garrison Dam | Relocation | GDUC | JTAC

Early Education

In the mid 1870s, the government focused its policy of education on bringing Indian children into “civilized” society. The agent declared that families who did not send their children to school would have rations (government annuities of food) withheld. Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara/Sahnish children at Fort Berthold were attending school at the Fort Stevenson boarding school, or C. L. Hall’s Congregational mission school. Many children were taken forcibly from their homes and sent off to schools such as the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania or the Hampton Institute in Virginia.

According to oral historians, the children were forced to wear uniforms and carry wooden guns. They were given Christian names and in some cases, lost their original names completely. Elders say many of the Indian people’s ancestors became confused because the government agents were careless in keeping records and assigned names randomly. Many children ran away from the schools because the environment, food, clothing, language, or attitudes of school personnel were unfamiliar to them. They were often caught and returned to the schools. They were not allowed to speak their own languages. If they did, they were severely punished. As a result of this, parents were afraid to allow their children to speak their own language. Very little English was spoken which hampered the children’s ability to learn in school.

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